Norfolk Electric, Inc., & others vs. Fall River Housing Authority, 417 Mass. 207

03/07/1994 Posted By: Corwin & Corwin LLP

Court: SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS
Citation: 417 Mass. 207
Parties: NORFOLK ELECTRIC, INC., & others 1 vs. FALL RIVER HOUSING AUTHORITY.
County: Suffolk
Hearing Date: December 9, 1993
Decision Date: March 7, 1994
Judges: LIACOS, C.J., WILKINS, NOLAN, LYNCH, & GREANEY, JJ.

In an action seeking a declaration under G. L. c. 231A that the defendant housing authority was bound to follow the Commonwealth's competitive bidding laws governing the construction of public buildings in awarding a contract for the renovation of an existing low income housing development, this court determined that declaratory relief was appropriate notwithstanding the plaintiffs' failure to avail themselves of the administrative review procedure afforded by G. L. c. 149, Section44H, where the parties had stipulated to the facts and exhibits; where the position of the Department of Labor and Industries was clearly in opposition to the plaintiff's position, and it would have been futile for the plaintiffs to seek relief from the department; and where resolution of the issue was in the public interest. [209-211] A public housing authority was not acting as a Federal agent, so as to excuse it from compliance with the requirements of G. L. c. 149, Sections 44A-44H, the Commonwealth's competitive bidding statute governing the construction of public buildings, when it renovated a housing project that it owned, with Federal funds awarded to it through the Comprehensive Grant Program developed under 42 U.S.C. Section 14371 (1988), where receipt of Federal funds, without more, does not suffice to convert a local housing authority into an agent of the Federal government [213]; where the housing authority, and not the Federal government, had the day-to-day control of the operations and the modernization of the housing project [213-214]; where Federal law (24 C.F.R. Section 85.36 [b] [1993]) required compliance with G. L. c. 149, Sections 44A-44H [214-215]; and where State law (G. L. c. 121B, Section 11) did not provide to the contrary [215-218].

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1 Gilbert & Becker Co., Inc.; Montle Plumbing & Heating Co.; A & A Window Products, Inc.; and Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts.

Page 208

CIVIL ACTION commenced in the Superior Court Department on June 25, 1993.

The case was heard by John L. Murphy, Jr., J., on a statement of agreed facts.

The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.

Peter J. Gagne (Joseph M. Corwin with him) for the plaintiffs.

William G. Camara for the defendant.



END OF DECISION